By: Jeff Nguyen
Eighty-two players from 19 clubs across 6 states participated in the 3-Star, 2023 ATTC Summer Giant Round Robin last weekend. The tournament hit the 84 player limit 3 1/2 weeks before the start date. It's astonishing to hear how fast our tournaments have been filling up! With the round robin format everyone gets in a decent amount of matches for the whole day, which seems to be a good reason why this format is very popular with our participants.
This tournament featured a diverse set of players: choppers, blockers, loopers, hitters, and lobbers. Having a larger cross-section of play styles - which is more representative of what you'd seen a national level tournament - helps make the tournament more competitive. Having some variety with player styles is a good opportunity to learn how to adapt and adjust to something unfamiliar and also an opportunity to learn how to maintain your focus in executing your style and how you want to play. Some styles may not be present in a given club or region so tournaments like ours are a great opportunity to mix things up. In the Division A round robins at least two of the four groups each had two choppers. A rare sight indeed! And boy can it be tough playing against someone who hits the ball in a way you've never seen before.
To recap Division A results, 3 of the top 4 seeds ended up in the semi-finals. Viren Patel seeded 6th upset #5 seed Shoko Kusuhara to advance to the semi-finals. Sina Asadallahi seeded 4th had a tough match against #3 seed Li Lewei, with Li Kewei taking the match in 5 allowing him to advance.
For the first semi-final, Jimmy Butler and Li Kewei faced off again. This Texas classic match-up resulted in Li Kewei taking the match 3-1. The second semifinal had #6 seed Viren Patel and #3 seed Andrew Cao, where Andrew won in the 5th, 12-10 - very close match. Fourteen year old Andrew is one of the up and coming juniors and has had some very close matches against 2500 and 2600 players recently. We're all excited to see how you progress Andrew - keep up the hard work! Viren Patel is studying at TAMU-CC and was a former Indian provincial player. He still seems underrated at 2244, so we'll have to see where he ends up in the next several tournaments. I have a feeling he's not going to be 2200 for long...
The final feature Li Kewei (the veteran), and Andrew Cao (The Rising Star). Li Kewei's professional experience from China and the European Leagues proved to be too much for the quick and powerful Andrew Cao. Li Kewei took the match in straight sets.
For our ATTC members we had 6 members reach the quarter-finals for their events and 4 podium finishes. Not as much as previous tournaments, as this tournament was a little more competitive than the last.
At a glance:
ATTC members stepped on the podium 5 out of 25 podium podium positions
13 folks made the top gainers list. To make this list you need to gain more than 20 points
8 adults (+542 total points), the top 3 adults gained an average of 134 points
5 juniors (+430 total points), the top 3 juniors gained an average of 124 points
Participants were from the following States competed:
Participants came from one of 19 clubs:
Central Florida TTC
New Orleans TTC
El Paso TTC
Central Texas Table Tennis Club
Dallas Fort Worth TTC
North Texas TTC
Texas Table Tennis Training Center
Chinese Community Center Houston
Houston International TTA
San Antonio TTC
Los Angeles TTA
Oklahoma City TTC
Texas A&M Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi TTC
Two ATTC Members Played their first tournament! Make sure to say hello to Ethan Jin (Junior) and Will Swope (Adult)!!!
1/4 - Sina Asadallahi
1/4 - Ananya Singaraju (ATTC Junior)
1st - Jenny Pobelova
4th - Sahaj Ramachandran (ATTC Junior)
1/4 - Ihsan Simms
2nd - Jeremy Lopez
4th - Andre Beskrowni
1/4 - Nicholas Michowski
1st - Ethan Jin (ATTC Junior)
1/4 - Morris Lo (ATTC Junior)
1/4 - Lekha Subbaiah (ATTC Junior)
TOP GAINERS LIST
Many of the folks on this list participate in Austin Table Tennis' coaching programs and the hard work is definitely showing. 8 of the 13 below participate in the Adult Monday group sessions, private lessons, or both. While all of the remaining 5 are juniors that train multiple times a week in the ATTC Junior Program.
The top gainer for adults and overall is Jenny Pobelova with 202 points!!! That's a huge amount of points!!! She plays a strong forehand attacking game and uses her antispin on her backhand to control the tempo, spin, and depth of the rally. She's difficult to play against and expect to walk to the barriers frequently to pick balls off the ground if you don't pay attention to the spin you give her!!!
Our top junior gainer is Yashwanath Sathish with 167 points!!! Yash is a two winged attacker with great touch and serve receive. His ability to adapt to different spins especially when receiving service is impressive. Don't expect your special serve to get past him for long!!!
The list below contains the following information: Name - Club Affiliation - New rating (point gain) Highest Rating (HR)
Jenny Pobelova -- ATTC Adult -- 1743(+202) HR
Yashwanth Sathish -- ATTC Junior -- 1436(+167) HR
Pavlo Savchenko -- ATTC Adult -- 1421(+109)
Morris Lo -- ATTC Junior -- 1020(+106) HR
Kartikaya Pershad -- ATTC Junior -- 1287(+101) HR
Conrado Garza -- ATTC Adult -- 1995(+91) HR
Nicholas Mickowski -- ATTC Adult -- 1329(+41)
Brandon Babot -- ATTC Adult -- 1452(+35) HR
Aditya Chirayath -- ATTC Junior -- 1719(+32) HR
Sikander Aggarwal -- ATTC Junior -- 1529(+24)
Ihsan Simms -- ATTC Adult -- 1429(+23) HR
Annayya Manjunath Savadatti -- ATTC Adult -- 1617(+21)
Yihang Tang -- ATTC Adult -- 1622(+20) HR
ATTC Junior Progress
For the analytics fans out there, I created an interactive plot capturing the progress of our top 5 junior across the number of tournaments they have played. In the future I'll make more plots capturing different groups of Juniors, but for now we'll focus on the top 5 so things are a little less cluttered visually. You can hover your mouse over the plot and interesting statistics will appear on the tool-tips. Hit the "Compare Data on Hover" double arrow icon in the upper right, and you'll be able to see all 5 kids progress over time for a specific tournament count.
Aditya, Ananya, Neave, Shandra, and Swar have started playing roughly around the same time starting in 2020 -- right before the pandemic. The kids started roughly near USATT 1000 and lingered there for a little while, but we can see an inflection point starting at the 11th tournament mark. Between their first tournament and the 11th tournament the kids were developing their technical base and learning how to play the game. After the 11th tournament a large increase in the rate of their improvement took place.
A major call-out for many of these kids is that the 11th tournament occurred in the first quarter of 2022, so a year and a half at the writing of this article. A tremendous amount of development has occurred for these kids over the past year as their technical skills have become more stable, and their understanding of the progression of a match has grown. The latter skill is a difficult skill to learn as it requires a lot of match play. These kids and their parents have been going to many tournaments in the past year and the experienced gained is reflected in their rating. After this point the kids are better able to focus on tactics instead of execution. Instead of worrying about getting a loop to land, they can play more intuitively and place balls at will.
2023 will be an exciting year for our juniors - we're not even half way yet! The second group of kids following these five are not far behind. The structure of the Junior Classes allows for all of them to train and challenge each other allowing them to grow together.